The Nationals scored 23 runs Sunday against Mets, putting the cherry on top of an absolutely ridiculous offensive month of April.
With 170 runs scored, the Nationals lead the majors by 29 (the Diamondbacks are second with 141). With a team triple slash of .295/.369/.510, they top the majors in all three categories (average, on-base percentage and slugging).
Not surprisingly, most of the regulars have been hitting the ball really well. Anthony Rendon hadn’t, but then heon Sunday. At the forefront are the three middle-order guys in Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy.
In fact, Harper made MLB history in April with 32 runs scored (hat-tip Ryan M. Spaeder). Here are the players with at least 28 runs scored in April (which also includes any regular-season games played in March).
Aside: Notice Eric Thames made the list this year as well.
Now, it’s always a bit murky to rely on “pace” because things tend to even out over the course of 162 games, but Harper is on a pace of 207 runs scored. The modern major-league record is 177, held by Babe Ruth (1921). Only 19 times since 1900 has a player topped 150 runs and only four times has a player topped 160 — Ruth twice and Lou Gehrig twice. The only time since 1950 a player has scored more than 150 runs was Jeff Bagwell in 2000 (152 runs).
Now, many like to argue that runs scored is more a team stat than an individual stat, but Harper is getting on base at a .509 clip (best in the majors) in front of Murphy and Zimmerman. He has also scored himself nine times with home runs. The .391 average and .772 slugging help Harper to be scary enough that he has been walked an MLB-best 22 times — including five times intentionally, which also leads the majors — in front of the scary hitters behind him. The runs scored here are a skill.
The run production here is off the charts. Harper is tied for second in all of baseball with 26 RBI. Get this: He’s tied with Murphy and the player they trail is Zimmerman. Yes, the top three RBI leaders in the majors all play for the same team.
In fact, the NL leaderboards are covered with Washington players.
- Zimmerman is first, Harper third and Murphy eighth in batting average.
- In OBP, Harper is first while Zimmerman is sixth.
- Zimmerman is first in slugging, with Harper fourth.
- Zimmerman leads in OPS with Harper third and Murphy 10th.
- Zimmerman is also first in hits, with Harper and Murphy tied with Justin Turner for second.
- Zimmerman leads in total bases with Harper second and Murphy seventh.
- Harper leads in runs created and times on base.
We could keep going, but it’s not really going to prove anything more. The Nationals have been the best offensive team in baseball by a large margin and it’s mostly thanks to these three guys, with Harper getting on base for the two behind him while also being an RBI machine.
There’s no reason to even ask if the Nationals can keep this up. They can’t. Not collectively. They are on pace for over 1,100 runs; 878 (Red Sox) paced the majors last season. The post-1900 record is 1,067 (the ’31 Yankees). No team has scored 1,000 since the 1999 Indians (1,009).
However, the Nationals very well could continue to be an offensive juggernaut. Losing Adam Eaton for the season really hurts, but there’s enough talent around this roster to keep mashing.
On Harper, he had a very good April last year and then regressed:
Rest of season: .235/.367/.392
Many are attributing the poor rest of season to Harper having a shoulder issue. Assuming that’s true and he stays healthy this year, we could be looking at a repeat of 2015. If he does that with Murphy and a rejuvenated Zimmerman behind him, that run total is going to continue moving along as a breathless pace. Perhaps he’ll have a shot at Babe Ruth’s record?
It’s at least something to watch.